Month: July 2010

ruins: urban, colonial, eternal.

I’ve written before about ruins in Detroit as that city confronts the challenges of urban abandonment.  Today I want to revisit ruins, and once again I’ll try to restrain myself from talking too much about Ruskin, the picturesque, and the patina of decay.  Because how we deal with ruins in our communities is a very practical question, as the city of Detroit shows.  When do you choose abandonment over rehabilitation?  What does it say about your sense of past, and future, when you choose to revere or ignore ruined buildings?  What stories do you tell when historic buildings are maintained, and what do you tell when they break down?  And finally, how do you build a new society, or continue to develop an existing one, in the context of previous narratives of abandonment and decay? I first started thinking about ruins when I visited my friend Alex in St. Louis last month.  She was interning for Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, a redevelopment organization that uses preservation and community history as the foundation of …

a FIGMENT full of imagination.

Last month, Cambridge held its annual RiverFest, a celebration of the arts, diversity, and, well, all things Cambridge.  But this year the festival had some help from an awesome organization in New York City: FIGMENT.  Figment is an interactive public art project that challenges artists and communities to find new ways to think, interact, dream, and experience our world.  The artists who participated — both Boston and New York based — created fresh, fun, enchanting works that transformed the Charles River banks and greatly enhanced the experience of festival participants.  When I’ve discussed figment with other festivalgoers, it’s always been in an awe-filled and inspired tone that truly reflects how transporting an immersive public art experience can be. Here are some photos. More cool things about FIGMENT: no corporate sponsorship, and no waste.  there’s an impromptu, guerilla feeling about it even though it’s extremely well-orchestrated.  and there was a roving steampunk klezmer band! Props to the Cambridge Arts Council for making this happen.  They are amazing.